Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) joined Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson to support full funding for BEACH Act grants and push new federal legislation that would strengthen existing water quality protection programs. The BEACH Act,authored by Senator Lautenberg and Rep. Pallone, was signed into law in 2000. The law sets national water quality standards and provides states with grants to test water quality and notify the public when conditions are unsafe.
"A day at the beach should never turn into a day at the doctor's office," said Senator Lautenberg, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. "New Jersey's shoreline is a major driver of our economy, an environmental treasure and a proud recreational resource for people in our state. Congressman Pallone and I will not let our beaches be taken for granted and we'll keep fighting to fund the BEACH Act and further improve water quality"
"The BEACH Act has been enormously successful in helping us improve water quality and testing over the past 12 years, which is critical to protecting the health of beachgoers," said Rep. Pallone. "Not only are our Jersey Shore beaches a tremendous resource for those who come here to enjoy them, they are also a huge economic engine for our state with tourism-related employment directly supporting 312,000 jobs. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure continued funding for BEACH Act grants so we have a clean coastal environment that attracts visitors."
"The programs supported by the BEACH Act are very important to shore towns like Asbury Park and the New Jersey's entire shore economy," said Mayor Johnson. "Extending these programs is not just an environmental issue, it's also an economic issue because our beaches support thousands of New Jersey jobs."
Despite having some of the cleanest beaches in the country, beach closures due to poor water quality still occur in New Jersey. Unfortunately, proposed federal budget cuts threaten to eliminate critical BEACH Act grants, which could force New Jersey and other states to cut back on water quality testing and public notifications that protect swimmers and families at the beach. Senator Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Pallone continue to fight for funding for these grants.
Last year, Lautenberg and Pallone introduced the Clean Coastal Environmental andPublic Health Act, designed to improve existing programs created by the original BEACH Act. This legislation would maintain funding for states established under the BEACH Act, while expanding programs to test water quality and notify residents of unsafe beaches.